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Navy’s perfect pair: Golf and food

Does golf really have to take that long? No, it doesn’t.

Playing golf takes up quite a lot of time. Compared to most sports that can be played in a couple of hours, hitting the links usually takes at least half a day. With most golf courses situated outside the metropolis, the travel time, obligatory meal/s and post-round drinks, a 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. golfing day is not out of the ordinary. Sounds like an exaggeration? Let’s break it down.

Say you were invited to a round of golf at a course within an hour of Manila. Not too far, right. Could be somewhere in Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan or Batangas. Tee time is set for 8 a.m., breakfast before the round.

You leave home at 5:30 a.m., allowing for light traffic. A typical round should take no more than four hours, but with how golf is played here, it’s really closer to five. You finish at 1 p.m. after a fun day out. A quick drink after a sweltering day and a quick shower later, it’s now closer to 2 p.m. Late lunch with a couple of beers after and you’re looking at leaving the course by 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Traffic in the afternoon can be unpredictable, and even if you manage to dodge rush-hour gridlocks, depending on where in the metropolis you’re from, you get home at 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This 12-hour golfing day is for a normal round. For tournament days where the awarding ceremonies take 2-3 hours, you do the math.

Does golf really have to take that long? No, it doesn’t. For those who’d like a quick round and plan to go to work after lunch or even before, there are a number of options. Playing closer is, of course, ideal. If you live and work within NCR and aren’t a member of Wack Wack or Manila Golf, then public courses are your best.

Luckily, whether you’re from the northern part (Veterans), central (Aguinaldo), Manila Bay area (Intramuros), or southern part (Villamor, Kagitingan, Navy) of Metro Manila, there’s a public course nearby. Start your round at 6 a.m. and you can make your lunch meeting with time to spare.

Recently, I enjoyed a round with Daily Tribune editors at Philippine Navy Golf Club. Teeing off at 7:30 a.m. on a busy day, we were done in time for lunch. PNGC or Navy, is gem of a course that is very accessible.

I’ve only played it once, in the mid-2000s so it was a pleasant surprise to find the course in good condition and quite challenging. Navy has a good mix of long and short holes, numerous hazards and rolling terrain, which was a surprise. Most courses in the metro are completely flat and Navy’s mix of downhill tee shots, an uphill par 3, holes requiring draws and fades, along with soft fairways with limited roll made our day a proper test.

Philippine Navy Golf Club isn’t just known for the golf. Their reputation for serving good food is also a welcome bonus. During our round, I overheard another flight preordering lunch just as they were getting ready to start their back 9. Proof of PNGC’s food following is the non-golfers having lunch at the club.

Probably half of the lunch crowd was a mix of office workers, armed forces officials and even families just there for a meal. Now this is something you don’t often see in other clubs. Their menu is quite extensive, but mostly serving Filipino comfort food and bar chow.

We ordered from their bestsellers menu and had Garlic Chicken, Tortang Talong and Gising-gising (not the popular vegetable dish, but their version of a sizzling “surf and turf” with shrimp, squid, mushrooms and pig’s ears). Golfers aren’t a hard crowd to please. Just give us large portions of freshly made, tasty food and we’re happy.

If you’re ever pressed for time or just want a quick golf fix without spending a fortune and an entire day, Philippine Navy Golf Club is worth a visit. Good golfing, good food and a round with friends is a (half) day spent well.

Philippine Navy Golf Club is located at Diego Silang Street, Bonifacio Naval Station, Fort Bonifacio, Makati. Call (02) 88192780 for inquiries.

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